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OTT: The trends to watch out for in 2021
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​​With the coronavirus still around, many people will continue staying in. So what will this mean for the OTT sector in...
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OTT: The trends to watch out for in 2021

​​With the coronavirus still around, many people will continue staying in. So what will this mean for the OTT sector in...
  • In our latest series, we look at different industries to understand what was 2020 like for them and to crystal gaze into the upcoming year, and identify some of the trends that will set the tone for 2021.
  • During the past few months of the global pandemic, people staying at home around the world have turned to various streaming services for entertainment. 
  • With the coronavirus still around, we speak to OTT players to find out what would 2021 look like for the industry.
Better connectivity, cheaper devices and even cheaper data plans have been aiding the growth of India’s over-the-top (OTT) industry over the past few years. However, 2020 became a year when more and more people came onto the digital ecosystem, thanks to being stuck at home during the lockdown.

With people barely moving out of their houses, they turned to the digital world for their daily fix of entertainment. Also, people were more open with experimenting with different platforms. If an IBEF report is to be believed, the OTT sector in India saw a 30% rise in the number of paid subscribers, from 22.2 million to 29.0 million between March and July 2020.

There was a visible increase in the time people were spending on most platforms. It therefore became important for platforms to come up with differentiated, fresh content that would help them stand apart. Owing to the fact that multiplexes were shut for months, many platforms also started launching movies directly on digital. Consumers have been happy for the most part.

As we enter 2021, expectations from the sector are high. With the coronavirus still around, many people will continue staying in. So what will this mean for the OTT sector in 2021? Will more and more people continue coming onto platforms, and prefer to pay for the content that they like? How will OTT platforms be able to ensure consumer stickiness? What are a few trends that will stand out in 2021? We reached out to a few experts from the industry and here’s what they had to say.

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global:
OTT: The trends to watch out for in 2021

I see two key themes that swung into prominence in 2020 emerging as key drivers of the OTT industry’s skyrocketing growth in 2021. With the lockdown, we’ve seen a trend of people across the globe warming up to the idea of paying for quality content, and also being willing to commit to annual subscription packs where they see value. I see this trend only accelerating in 2021, leading to strong SVOD growth.

This has also been a year where international content has gained massive traction across markets. With ZEE5 and other OTT platforms offering dubbed and subtitled content, enabling people in one geography to seamlessly access stories from any other, content is now truly democratized. Storytelling is increasingly blurring boundaries and storytellers are finding newer audiences beyond their own borders. I think 2021 is going to be the year that international content comes into even greater prominence as online audiences literally discover a world of new content via their OTT platforms.

Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment Limited:
OTT: The trends to watch out for in 2021

2021 is going to be an exciting year as OTT is already riding the wave of increased data consumption and internet penetration in the small towns and rural India. The year gone by also saw some great innovations and developments in the OTT space. From direct-to-digital releases to the increasing growth in the regional content, this year has bolstered the growing popularity of OTT to an all-time high. One trend that is expected to take centre stage is highly localised and regional content.

The key to ace the trend is to have an in-depth understanding of the traditions and culture of the viewers. Understanding the deep-rooted connections our viewers have with their mother tongue, we have developed a strong regional strategy for Shemaroo across all our platforms. We have a huge content bank that ranges from Bollywood, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Kids, Devotional, and various specialised trays. Content companies saw a huge change and spike in the content viewing pattern of the audiences during the lockdown. Our regional offerings saw an impressive surge in viewership especially in the Gujarati category with viewership as high as 102% in the peak months of the lockdown. While Bollywood is our mainstay, our teams have been constantly acquiring and upgrading our regional offerings, so our audiences have something new every time they tune in. We aim to make it a more robust and comprehensive pick for any consumer who wishes to enjoy varied regional content.

Ferzad Palia, Head, Voot Select, Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18:
OTT: The trends to watch out for in 2021

Year 2020 saw the OTT category driven by groundbreaking storytelling and macro factors resulting in significant growth for SVOD services. Viewers’ willingness to pay for quality content is now well established. However, around 65% of subscribers are still from Top 10 metros. 2021 will buck this trend and see the Premium OTT Category in India expand its footprint outside of the top 10 metros, heralding the next phase of growth for the category.

Karan Bedi, CEO - MX Player:
OTT: The trends to watch out for in 2021

Video streaming has become the primary mode of entertainment for most digital consumers across India this year. With this backdrop, India is set to become a key market for growth in OTT video in 2021. This will lead to an avalanche of new unique original content for these audiences as they have very little to watch on TV. In this situation, marketers are also increasingly aware of where their money works best, and would like to focus on those mediums, namely digital and OTT.

Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing, Analytics and Direct Revenue, ALTBalaji
OTT: The trends to watch out for in 2021

Digital is an ever-evolving medium and when it comes to OTT players, competition across the industry is soaring high with everyone at their toes trying to secure their places in the minds of consumers. While the pandemic of 2020 redefined content consumption, the year 2021 will chart new business alliances and revenue models for platforms to acquire direct subscriptions.

The report from FICCI and E&Y predicted 30-35 million paying subscribers on OTT platforms alone in the year 2021, and we are excited about carving a substantial pie out of the same. Our objective has always been content massification and with the next billion internet users set to hail from the Hindi heartlands, India’s digital industry promises a host of fresh avenues to explore and expand. The soon-to-arrive 5G networks will only work as an important factor for OTT platforms to scale further heights.

Prime Video India spokesperson:

“2020 has been a very exciting year for us at Prime Video India – at a time when a large section of customers, looking for high quality entertainment, are turning to streaming video - we launched 18 direct-to-digital movies (across 5 Indian languages) and 8 Indian Amazon Original Series, in addition to several Global Originals and hundreds of licensed and exclusive titles. One of the most consistent trends we observed in 2020 is that great content transcends geographical barriers. Indian stories are traveling across the globe - 1 out of 5 viewers of Indian Originals are from outside India. Both Four More Shots Please! and Made in Heaven were nominated for the International Emmy Awards, a testimony to local, authentic stories finding a global audience. Our first slate of DTS movies received close to 50% (and sometimes more) viewership for titles in Indian languages from customers outside the home states. Our Bollywood direct-to-service movies were block-buster hits - Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi have been our most-watched movies on Prime Video in India as well as the most-watched Hindi/ Bollywood Movie outside India. Localized content not only helps us remain relevant, relatable but eventually also helps in widening audience reach - we also see global shows going deeper in India. We released Parasite with Hindi subs in India and that opened viewership to a whole new audience. We also dubbed some of our popular Global Amazon Originals like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and more recently, the second season of the The Boys in Indian languages, leading to more people discovering and watching these titles. This gives us an insight that customers are ready to watch content that has originated from any part of the world, if the story and the characters resonate with them.”